Family Law

During lockdown, many of us are taking part in virtual quizzes, and the question posed in the title to this blog came up in one of the virtual quizzes in which I participated.  The answer to the question: they were all adopted.

From virtual quizzes to webinars, to speaking to clients and colleagues, we are all spending more time in front of our computers as we connect with those outside our household during lockdown.  Last night was no exception, as my colleague, Zoe Wray and I were invited by Adoption UK Scotland to be on the panel for a Q&A webinar that they were hosting for their members and contacts.  Adoption UK Scotland are a charity providing information, advice and support to prospective adopters and adoptive parents.

When it comes to adoption, in my experience, there are a number of commonly asked questions from prospective adopters- and those same questions were asked during the webinar last night:

Is it possible to be adopted at any age in Scotland?

No – an adoption application must be lodged in court before a person’s 18th birthday.

Is it possible to be too old to adopt a child?

There is no upper-age limit for adopting a child in Scotland.  Having said that, one of the considerations assessed as part of the adoption process is whether the age difference between the prospective adopter(s) and the child is greater or less than the “normal” difference in age between parents and their children – and the court will have regard to that when considering the adoption application.

Will my health preclude me from adopting a child?

There is no statutory requirement that prospective adopters be of good health.  However, the court will require to be satisfied that any health condition that you have will not impair your ability to parent the child and promote the welfare of the child throughout his/her life.

Do I have to be married to adopt a child?

No – there is no requirement for couples applying to adopt a child to be married.  A couple living together in an enduring family relationship can apply to adopt a child, as can civil partners and a single person.

Once the adoption order is granted, do we need to do anything to formally change the name of the child that we have adopted?

No – you don’t need to do anything.  Within the adoption court application, it states the name by which you want the child to be known by if the Adoption Order is granted; and the Adoption Order itself will state the name by which the child is to be known by.

Following the granting of an Adoption Order, the court will write to the Registrar General for Scotland directing them to make an entry regarding the Order in the Adopted Children’s Register stating the new name for the child, and the Registrar General will also mark the original birth entry of the child as “Adopted”.  You can then obtain an extract of the Adoption Certificate from the National Records of Scotland for a nominal fee.

The above are just a small selection of some of the questions asked at the webinar last night and that can be answered fairly briefly (as I don’t want this blog to turn into an essay!).  The legal process of adoption can be daunting for some prospective adopters but having a family law solicitor with adoption experience to guide them through the process is undoubtedly invaluable – and that was confirmed by an adoptive parent during the webinar last night.

Brodies LLP has a team of Family Law solicitors with experience in providing advice and representation to prospective adopters. Should you wish specialist legal advice on adoption, please do not hesitate to contact one of the team.

Nicola Kerr